Better Bars: The 6 Best Shaving Soaps

As men, we have become complacent about what we use to shave with. We’ll spend hundreds on a good razor and then slather our face with whatever 99 cent cream we find at the store. We think anything that can make a lather is good enough for shaving, and we often pay for the results in literal blood through countless nicks and cuts because we don’t have the proper tools to do the job of hair removal. If you’re tired of being let down by shaving cream and want to try something different, consider a shaving soap.

Unlike creams, these soaps take a master’s touch, but provide a wholly different shaving experience for the user. It is usually more transparent allowing you to better attack your whiskers, rather than flying blind like you do with most shaving creams. You’ll need a shaving brush with stiffer bristles to get the desired effect out of a shaving soap, but once you do you’ll find it gives a better cushion to help protect your skin, though your stubble might not stand up as well. Ordinarily it is straight razor fans who head for the soaps, but whatever your weapon of choice, one of the 6 best shaving soaps is a must for your wet shave.

Williams Mug scheerzeep 1840

Williams Mug

Pro: Inexpensive
Con: Requires separate mug

Best Bargain: You don’t need to be bombarded with French words or inundated with hand-crafted products milled by virginal nuns who live cloistered on a hilltop in Madagascar. You just need a good soap that will keep your skin moist, won’t dry you out, gives you a quick and easy lather, and can work with almost any razor. Williams Mug can handle that. Despite the tiny price tag, you’re still getting a quality-milled soap that gives you a very long lasting lather and won’t go dry on your face. Even if you use something more refined for other occasions, having a chunk of Williams on hand for day to day shaving or taking it on long business trips where it is almost sure to be lost by a baggage handler is never a mistake. You can turn any mug into a shaving dream and will get a strong lather that works well. Especially handy for beginners or young shavers who tend to waste the soap. [Purchase: $3]

Synergy Cavendish Shaving Soap

Synergy Cavendish Shaving Soap

Pro: Completely vegan
Con: Tin is slightly tacky

For the Modern Man: This is easily one of the more impressive Artisan shave soaps on the market. It has a light odor that is clean and smells faintly of sweet pipe tobacco that will allow it to blend in seamlessly at your cigar club and complement your single malt habit nicely. While the tin leaves something to be desired in presentation, it nonetheless has a method to its madness. It is made to create a broader surface area so that even if you are using a softer brush you can whip up a monster of a lather with a flick of your wrist. The Kokum Butter along with the multiple other organic butters that comprise the base are entirely vegan and completely cruelty free. Perfect for the synthetic shaving brush user who prefers a kinder, gentler, more ecologically sound lifestyle but still wants a clean, close shave that doesn’t leave them looking like a hemp necklace salesman at Burning Man. [Purchase: $16]

Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood Shaving Soap

Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood Shaving Soap

Pro: Less intense lather
Con: Can dry out your skin

For Safety Razor Slingers: Taylor of Old Bond Street normally gets a lot of love for their shaving cream, which failed to blow out minds, though this soap certainly did. It is a hard soap that feels more like a bar than many of its softer contemporaries, so you’ll want a harder brush – we suggest horse or boar – since softer ones will have a hard time really getting the most out of it. What you get here is not the deep peaks of lather like you would with a cream, but rather a more visible shaving experience that goes great with a safety razor and lets you truly see what you’re doing. Despite this slightly thinner lather, your face will still be protected from nicks and cuts, though the lower glycerin content means you’ll probably want to hit your skin with a moisturizer or after shave lotion to keep it from drying out. [Purchase: $30]

Antica Barbieria Colla Almond Oil Shave Soap

Antica Barbieria Colla Almond Oil Shave Soap

Pro: Smoothest shave around
Con: Usually requires importation

Practically Perfect: Besides the heavy price tag, and the fact that the best way to get the soap is to fly all the way to Italy, there is almost nothing wrong with this product. It provides natural moisturizing thanks to the Almond oil base that smells slightly nutty with undercurrents of distinctly earthy smells that tease the palette. With almost any brush you’ll quickly have a supple lather that begs to be applied and leaves you refreshed with your skin feeling a gentle buzz reminiscent of mentholated shaving creams but without the slightly chemical feel. It is clear from using it that hours of work went into each bar. If you have stubborn stubble, this might be a little too gentle, but mostly it astounds with almost every swipe of the blade. [Purchase: $37]

DR Harris Marlborough

D.R. Harris Marlborough

Pro: Handles the toughest beards
Con: Strong scent

The Old Guard: Don’t let the name throw you off, this soap doesn’t have anything to do with tobacco, though it is almost certainly the choice of many a hard bitten range rider thanks to it’s sturdy, no-nonsense design and classic texture. It’s triple milled to soften your whiskers for an easier shave if you’ve got coarse hair or a 5 o’clock shadow that has been hardened by a day on the logging trails or saddle breaking a wild stallion. The hand turned mahogany bowl adds a touch of homespun class as well as a gentle wood scent to your lather that could only be more masculine if it reeked of gun oil and cordite. It works especially well with difficult beards or ingrown hairs so that even if you suffer from issues you’ll still be able to come out looking as smooth as the day you were born. [Purchase: $42]

Martin de Candre Lavender-Mint Shave Soap

Martin de Candre Lavender-Mint

Pro: Very long lasting
Con: Expensive

The Mark of Quality: You’ll hear the terms “overpriced” and “overrated” used very often when it comes to Martin de Candre’s products, and certainly there can be some sticker shock, but for brand recognition that also offers an exceptional product created in the style of the old country, then you really don’t have any other options. The soap is made using a “hot” process that requires six months of aging to be complete, hence the slightly inflated price. The end result is a heavy, dense shaving soap that can last you for ages and tells anyone poking through your medicine cabinet that you take your skin care seriously. The Lavender Mint smell is a delight, though you can also get it unscented or with a slightly lighter, less fragrant Fougere (meaning fern) scent that is slightly woodsy and very clean. [Purchase: $65]